Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dylan Likes His Books

Haven't done this in a while so I thought I'd have some fun. My little guy is getting big. Dylan is now just over 8 months old and tons of fun. He loves his books, he giggles at the pictures and I think I've already convinced him that fantasy is the best there is:

He's already farther along than I am.

Now he's just trying to show off that it's signed, if he can only get to that page. Cheeky monkey.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Flying Cars

From XKCD. Sorry, it doesn't fit, click on it to see the punch line. ...I mean I did it on purpose. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Haul

RuneScape: Return to Canifis (RuneScape 2) [US] [UK] by TS Church
(3 - Haven't yet read volume one in this series)
Varrock is the greatest human city in the world, yet it is a city filled with dangerous secrets. People have been disappearing, taken by an inhuman abductor. Its victims are murdered...or worse. For some are spirited away to Morytania, the land where vampires rule.

As Kara-Meir and her friends--heroes of the Battle of Falador--gather for the Midsummer Festival, unrest grows against the crown. A conspiracy is unmasked, and the King is forced to send representatives across the holy river to Canifis, the capital of Morytania. For reasons of his own, he selects the now famous heroine Kara, as well as Gar’rth, unique in his knowledge of the land of the dead. They are accompanied by Theodore, Doric the dwarf, the wizard Castimir, and the barbarian priestess Arisha, on a mission that will force Gar’rth to confront his violent heritage, and will reveal secrets that will test their loyalties to the limit.

For the price of failure in Morytania is far worse than death, and if their mission fails then a new King will rule in Varrock. A King who is lord of both the living and the dead.

RuneScape is the world’s most popular free MMORPG.
Shadow's Lure [US] [UK] by Jon Sprunk
(5 - Just moved up to next on the TBR list)
Danger lurks in the unforgiving Northlands, and a sinister magic lurks in the shadows waiting for it's moment to strike. It's the worst place to be searching for something, even for an assassin with no loyalties and even fewer scruples...

In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain. An assassin beyond compare. A dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again. Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents in the bitterly cold Northlands of his birth, Caim finds himself in a land in thrall to the Shadow.

A wielder of the darkest kinds of blood magic imaginable holds his homeland in their iron fist, crushing all opposition beneath their tyrannous boot. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, by turns in control of his magic and at the mercy of the Shadow, Caim becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight. But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some battles from which he can't run.

If Caim is going to survive - and if he's to uncover the truth about his own magic and his parent's death - then he is going to have to fight. But will his strength and skill be enough? Can anyone resist the Shadow's Lure...?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Genre for Japan

This deserves all the push I can give it:

Press Release: Time to Donate Prizes!
We’ve all heard the news and seen the horrific pictures coming from Japan in the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami – and no doubt we’ve all wondered how to help.

Following the example of Authors for Japan, where bids are now closed, we’d like to introduce Genre for Japan, a chance for the comics, science fiction, fantasy and horror communities to unite and show our generosity to those who need it right now.

We are planning to run auctions for genre-themed prizes and we need YOU to donate. We are looking for really fantastic prizes: examples might include signed first editions, coaching sessions with agents for that perfect submission letter or original artwork!

Some of the prizes already donated include a year's supply of books from Tor, signed artwork from Solaris Books and editing/critiques from professional authors and editors. The prizes will be auctioned on our website, through JustGiving, in aid of the British Red Cross Tsunami Appeal.

If you have something really special to donate, please drop us a line at genreforjapan@gmail.com including information such as a starting bid amount, a sentence or two about the item, and whether you wish to send the prize to a central collecting point or would be willing to post it to the winning bidder. Photos would also help us to list the item, if relevant.

The deadline to receive offers of prizes is 25th March, with the auction set to begin on 28th March.

Find out more information on our website: http://genreforjapan.wordpress.com/
Follow us on twitter: @genreforjapan
E-mail us: genreforjapan@gmail.com

Genre for Japan is organised by:
Amanda Rutter: reviewer and webmistress at Floor to Ceiling Books
Jenni Hill: editor for science fiction, fantasy and horror publishers Solaris Books
Louise Morgan: author and interviewer for the British Fantasy Society
Ro Smith: writer and reviewer; blogger at In Search of the Happiness Max
Alasdair Stuart is the editor of Hub magazine.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Haul

Just a few this week, but I guess I have enough on my plate already. Probably a good thing. :)

RuneScape: Betrayal of Falador by T.S. Church [US] [UK]
(3 out of 5 - Looks good, but I've never played RuneScape)
In the kingdom of Asgarnia, though the Knights of Falador defend the land a protect the people, they face threats that clamor from all sides-and from within. Enemies mass at borders, and a killer stalks the night killing innocents and slipping away unseen.

When a young woman appears in the teeth of the storm, her sudden arrival launches a chain of events that endangers the very fabric of magic. And unless the knights can solve the riddle of Kara-Meir, everything they hold close may be lost.

Their one hope may lie in the hands, not of a knight, but of an untested squire named Theodore...

The River Kings' Road by Liane Merciel [US] [UK]
(4 out of 5 - Some reviewers I trust have given this a good rating)
A thrilling new voice in fantasy makes an unforgettable debut with this "intriguingly twisted tale of treachery and magic" (New York Times bestselling author L. E. Modesitt, Jr.). Liane Merciel’s The River Kings’ Road takes us to a world of bitter enmity between kingdoms, divided loyalties between comrades, and an insidious magic that destroys everything it touches. . . .

The wounded maidservant thrust the knotted blankets at him; instinctively, Brys stepped forward and caught the bundle before it fell. Then he glimpsed what lay inside and nearly dropped it himself.

There was a baby in the blankets. A baby with a tear-swollen face red and round as a midsummer plum. A baby he knew, even without seeing the lacquered medallion tucked into the swaddling—a medallion far too heavy, on a chain far too cold for an infant who had not yet seen a year.

A fragile period of peace between the eternally warring kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyr is shattered when a surprise massacre fueled by bloodmagic ravages the Langmyrne border village of Willowfield, killing its inhabitants—including a visiting Oakharne lord and his family—and leaving behind a scene so grisly that even the carrion eaters avoid its desecrated earth. But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage—a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe, and who enlists a Langmyr peasant, a young mother herself, to nourish and nurture the child of her enemies as they travel a dark, perilous road . . . Odosse, the peasant woman whose only weapons are wit, courage, and her fierce maternal love—and who risks everything she holds dear to protect her new charge . . . Sir Kelland, a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun, called upon to unmask the architects behind the slaughter and avert war between ancestral enemies . . . Bitharn, Kelland’s companion on his journey, who conceals her lifelong love for the Knight behind her flawless archery skills—and whose feelings may ultimately be Kelland’s undoing . . . and Leferic, an Oakharne Lord’s bitter youngest son, whose dark ambitions fuel the most horrific acts of violence. As one infant’s life hangs in the balance, so too does the fate of thousands, while deep in the forest, a Maimed Witch practices an evil bloodmagic that could doom them all. . . .

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Review - The Elephant Tree by RD Ronald

I was going to put this review on Only the Best like I normally do for books that haven't already been reviewed for that site, but because this one really isn't a fantasy or SciFi, I figured The Stamp was the best place for it.

When I was first offered The Elephant Tree [US] [UK] for review, I didn't quite know what to think. I really liked the cover and I thought it might be interesting but that's about it. Then I started reading and it's mostly about drug dealers and that's not really up my alley given my prudish upbringing.

Turns out, I'm really glad I read it.

The Elephant Tree is Ronald's debut and I have to say I'm really impressed. That's not to say this was a perfect book. It is a little disjointed in parts and some of the foreshadowing/set-up is a little confusing and the blurb on the back is kind of misleading. It talks about a character that has maybe 5 pages total involvement as if he's a main character.

Other than that, I was really attached to the actual main characters, Scott and Angela, and the plot definitely threw me for some loops. Scott is a drug dealer with bigger plans, but stuck in a rut and Angela is a drug dealer's daughter who's lived with it all her life. They both want more from life, but don't quite know how to get there.

The majority of the book, we follow Scott around through his life. He smokes weed, smokes a cigarette, drinks a pint, smokes more weed, rinse and repeat. This goes on for quite a while and I hate to bring up another negative point, because I really did like this book, but it was a bit ridiculous how much of a focus this book has on the above. Then again, that's a culture I'm completely unaware of and I have to admit it gives you a good sense of the lives of these characters and what they revolve around.

Scott has always been talking about leaving the drug dealing life and moving up and finally he's offered a chance to do just that. His friend Twinkle (nickname) has an "easy" job lined up and it would make them a lot of money. Of course this gets them in with a boss in town and that kind of relationship is not too easy to break.

The Elephant Tree is definitely worth the read. There are great characters, a great plot, and everything just fits together in a great timeline with a great pace.

Why Should You Read The Elephant Tree?

Our society is very interested in drug culture. Almost every movie you watch has at least a reference to drugs if not the plethora that actually revolve around drug dealing. Blow and Half Baked are the first that come to mind. The Elephant Tree was written by someone who has experienced this (it was mostly written from prison) and after reading it, I feel like I have a much better understanding of what goes on. Recommended.

3.5 out of 5 Stars